How Chorley garden designer and sculptor John Everiss is creating an RAF Benevolent Fund Garden for the 2022 Chelsea Flower Show

One man who certainly knows the answer to that is John Everiss, a Gold Award-winning landscape garden designer from Chorley.

He has shared his insight into the mix of inspiration and sweat it takes to plant a garden for the prestigious RHS show.

As the creator of this year’s RAF Benevolent Fund Garden, he can attest to the months that go into the production of such a garden – even if it’s being built from the ground up in just a few weeks at the London Showgrounds.

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John and George Everiss take a closer look at the statue created for the RAF Benevolent Fund Garden

John has been a garden designer for 30 years, formerly of Bezza Nursery in Samlesbury and has also designed garden sculptures for the past nine years.

It is a matter of pride for John that this year’s Chelsea Garden and sculpture will eventually have a permanent and suitably located home within a larger memorial garden that John designed for London’s Biggin Hill Airport.

His contribution is one of 14 charitable contributions sponsored by the charity Project Giving Back at the May 24-28 show.

John said: “It’s important that post-Covid charities get a boost because of all the fundraising issues.”

A Chelsea garden takes months or even years to work on – here John (left) shows Lancastrian Paralympian and RAF veteran Stuart Robinson some of the plants grown for the garden at Bannister Hall Nursery in Walton le Dale. Stuart will be a VIP visitor in Chelsea’s garden.

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Lancashire goes to Chelsea: Paralympic star Stuart Robinson gives John Everiss…

It’s a family affair this year as son George, a physics graduate, has played a key role in the design work for the garden’s structures and main sculpture, a 12ft tall sculpture of an RAF soldier looking up at the sky.

John said: “Everything was designed by me and my son.

“The sculpture consists of 223 individual layers of stainless steel. The actual construction came from Fitzpatricks UK in Nelson.”

John Everiss visits Fitzpatricks to see the work in progress on a Battle of Britain pilot sculpture

The garden will feature a Purbeck stone drywall that spirals around the sculpture.

There are also laser-cut steel elements with a lace-like design located around the garden, interspersed with the VIPs – very important plants.

Keep an eye out for a seven-foot-tall cloud-trimmed camellia. John said: “Through the rest of the garden we walk with a tapestry of azaleas, camellias and a more open area and another story of woodland style planting.

“It’s quite restful and peaceful with muted colors.”

Close up of the sculpture which will be on display in the RAF Beneveolent Fund Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show

He continued: “I grew about 1,000 of the plants myself – geraniums, cow parsley, cirsium, foxgloves… It’s quite difficult to grow plants in Lancashire for Chelsea – half were grown here and half in Hampshire.

“The thing about Chelsea is you never know the weather; you have to have plan A, B, C and D to cover all the bases.

“I probably have around 2,500 growing plants and will probably use 1200/1300 at Chelsea. I will use the rest in other projects.”

He outlined his schedule, which began construction on May 6. Then, he says, “the plants follow me down the following week, so we then have a week to build the garden.”

“At the end of the show all the plants will be coming back to Lancashire for a bit of TLC (Tender Loving Care). Two weeks after our return we start rebuilding down in Kent.

“Chelsea is essentially a piece of theatre, we’re creating the illusion of a garden that has always been there.”

John, who studied at Myserscough College, has previously won gold and a People’s Choice Award at Chelsea.

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